In the late nineties I was obsessed with The Smashing Pumpkins. (So was everyone, but not many like me – I lived by their songs, lodged as they were in my adolescent soul.) I have liked their hopeful-but-melancholic song “Thirty Three” since that time.
Tomorrow’s just an excuse away
So I pull my collar up and face the cold, on my own
The earth laughs beneath my heavy feet
At the blasphemy in my old jangly walk
Lately I have had this theory he must have been writing about turning thirty-three. It all seemed so true in my head. I was to finally understand the mood of the song, having reached his age. But I had it wrong. I just checked; Billy Corgan was born in 1967, making him just 28 when the album was released. These days, obscure song titles don’t seem as clever to me as they did back then.
Anyway, I don’t have to face the cold on my own, that’s not what thirty-three is about. That’s what being sixteen was for.
Jarvis Cocker of Pulp certainly wrote about being thirty-three, there’s no misinterpreting him in “Dishes”, his song about having the same initials as Jesus:
A man told me to beware of 33.
He said, “It was not an easy time for me” but I’ll get through even though
I’ve got no miracles to show you.
It wasn’t an easy time for Jesus, obviously, it being his last year on Earth. For several years I’ve thought that I’m not that old, given I was younger than Jesus. This defence is no longer open to me.
I have a lot of things I want to do this year. I feel like shouting Miss Brodie style, “I’m in my prime!”. Trying to enjoy it while I can.